EU Presidency – Hungary presidency plans face new difficulties

Brussels, November 26 (MTI) – Hungary’s original plans for its stint at the rotating European Union presidency next year could be blighted by recent difficulties in agreeing on a union budget and an implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, the Hungarian ambassador to the EU told a forum in Brussels on Friday.

Peter Gyorkos said that on the other hand advancement was expected in the areas of energy policy, Roma strategy, EU enlargement and neighbourhood policy, water and Danube strategy, cultural diversity, demographics and family policy.

    Gyorkos, the head of Hungary’s Permanent Representation to the European Union, said Hungary will organise a summit on energy policy and innovation in February, and one on Eastern Partnership in May, in addition to the regular meetings of heads of state and government in March and June. The EU’s Roma strategy will be addressed in June, with national efforts coordinated in a joint EU policy, Gyorkos said.

    A continuity in the EU integration of the Western Balkans is important, he said, adding that the process will complete the 2004 and 2007 enlargement waves.

    Croatia’s membership process is of exemplary value for these countries, Gyorkos said, adding that the EU supports integration in the region but insists on full adherence to criteria and the implementation of needed reforms.

    The goal of closing accession talks with Croatia during Hungary’s presidency is obtainable, Turkey will be offered unbiassed talks and Iceland can even see some chapters closed in accession talks by the end of the six-month presidential term, Gyorkos said.

    He added that there is no contingency plan yet for a potential breakdown of EU budget talks, but Hungary will make every effort to continue EU work even in such a scenario and to facilitate an agreement during its presidential stint.

    Ensuring seamless operations will also be Hungary’s aim in connection with implementing the year-old Lisbon Treaty, Gyorkos said. Hungary’s presidency will aim to raise efficiency in terms of the new EU functions, he added.

    He said that among the greatest challenges Hungary’s presidency will be faced with is finding an exit from the economic crisis, including help to strengthen economic cooperation within the union and sealing new financial mechanisms to be finalised at a December summit.

    In response to questions about guarantees for press freedom in Hungary, Gyorkos said the government will demonstrate the greatest possible openness towards journalists during the presidency, too.

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